I’m sure many of you, like me, were blown away by Paul McCartney, at 80, playing a full set at Glastonbury. No, he didn’t do Let it Be, but I found myself singing it a couple of days ago and thought it was apt for where I am now in my bipolar cycle.
I went down at lunchtime on 8th June, which means, as you are reading this, it’s day 29. The average length of these low periods is 42 days, so I’m probably looking at another two weeks of exhaustion, shimmering and unreliable reality, brain-fog and anhedonia.
Yes, it’s grim. The medication means the worst of the darkness is kept away, I’m not suicidal and I’m in charge of the negative thoughts. But life goes on without me, and life gets away from me.
My business suffers during these times as I can neither work a full schedule of consultations nor do the marketing required to book in more clients. The house suffers as I don’t have the energy to clean, the garden resembles a jungle, and my friends are neglected.
A wise woman once said to me, “Life repeats the lessons until you learn them.” As I was looking out over my garden, where the nettles are as high as an elephant’s eye – or, at least, my eye – which would be a fairly small elephant, I tried to think what lessons I am supposed to be learning from these repeating bouts of depression.
Then it came to me. A lesson I had been taught during lockdown and practised while getting sober, and which I now need to learn thoroughly, is to let things be.
During lockdown, our directors held regular meetings with all the company consultants. Emotions of frustration, anger and fear were running high. We were encouraged to acknowledge these emotions, face them, validate them, and then – just allow them to be. Of course we were frustrated, angry and fearful: it was only to be expected. It was okay to feel all these emotions, and counterproductive to fight them or invalidate them.
What happens when you say, “I am afraid, and it’s natural to feel afraid, and it’s okay to feel afraid,” is you make peace with fear. It doesn’t mean you stop being afraid, but the power of fear over you diminishes.
While I was in the early days of sobriety, I learned to face the emotions I drank to avoid. Facing loneliness, fear, inadequacy, failure and accepting them, made it easier to be with the cravings for alcohol. The cravings were normal and expected – and I could go through them.
Now, as I look out over the piece of darkest Africa in what used to be my garden, I can accept my grief and frustration and let it be.
And, instead of weeds, see habitat for butterflies, unintentional flowers, the delicate pink and white bugling of the bindweed and, triumphant over all, the joyful shout of my roses.
I can let it be.
A Moodscope member.